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Candour, I think, requires us to look on him as a sincere christian, whose fruitfulness was yet very much checked by that very philosophy for which Eusebius so highly commends him. A blasting wind it surely was, but it did not intirely destroy christian vegetation in all whom it infected. Be hold now his Disciple, from whom we may fee more clearly what the Master was, because we have more evidence concerning him.
But the christian reader is prepared to expect a declension in divine things, in the state of the church before us,
E was, by his own confeflion, a scholar of
Pantænus, and of the same philosophical caft of mind. He was of the Eclectic sect. It is sincerely to be regretted that Clemens had any acquaintance with them ; so far as he mixed chriftianity with their notions, so far he tarnished it, and by his zeal, activity, learning, and reputation, at the same time that he taught many, he clouded the light of the gospel among those, who yet in fundamentals were profited by his instruction. Hear how he describes himself: *“ I espouse not this or that philosophy, not the Stoic, nor the Platonic, nor the Epicurean, nor that of Aristotle; but whatever any of these sects had said, that was fit and just, that taught righteousness with a divine and religious knowledge, felecting all this I call it philolophy.”
IC * Strom. L. I. See Cave's Life of Clemens.
It is evident from hence, that from the time that this philosophizing spirit had entered into the church, through Justin, it had procured to itself a respect to which its merit no way intitled it. What is there even of good Ethics in all the phi. losophers, which Clement might not have learnt in the New Testament, and much more perfectly, and without the danger of pernicious adulterations ? Doubtless many valuable purposes are anfwered by an acquaintance with these writers ; but to dictate to us in religion, Clement should have known, was no part of their business : that “ the world by wisdom knew not God,” and “beware of philosophy.” The christian world was now gradually learning to neglect these cautions, and Divine knowledge is certainly much too high a term for any human doctrine whatever.
He succeeded his master Pantænus in the catechetical school, and under him were bred the famous Origen, Alexander Bishop of Jerusalem, and other eminent men. I am sorry to hear him say, that as the husbandman first waters the soil, and then casts in his seed, (the Egyptian ideas of agriculture are plainly before him) so the notions he derived out of the writings of the Gentiles served first to water and soften the earthy parts of the soul, that the spiritual feed might be the better cast in, and take vital root in the minds of men.
This certainly is not a christian dialect, nor did the Apostles place Gentile philosophy in the foundation, nor believe at all that it would asist in raising the superstructure of christianity. On the contrary, they looked on philosophical religion as so much rubbish ; but in all ages the blandilhments of mere reason deceive us, “ vain man would be wise."
Besides the office of Catechist, he was made Presbyter in the church of Alexandria. During the persecution under Severus, most probably, he visited the East, and had a peculiar intimacy with Alexander Bishop of Jerusalem. He appears to have been a holy man, and suffered imprisonment for the faith, and in that situation wrote a letter to the church of Antioch, which was carried by Clemens. Something of the spirit of christianity appears in the fragment of this letter.
" Alexander, a servant of God, and a prisoner of Jesus Christ, to the blessed church at Antioch, in the Lord, greeting. Our Lord has made my bonds, in this time of my imprisonment, light and easy to me; while I understood that Asclepiades, a person admirably qualified by his eminency in the faith, was by Divine Providence become Bishop of your holy church of Antioch. These letters, brethren, I have sent you by Clemens the blessed Presbyter, a man of approved integrity, whom ye both do already and shall still further know; who having been here with us according to the good will of God, hath much established and augmented the church of Christ.” From Jerusalem Clemens went to Antioch, and afterwards returned to his charge at Alexandria. The time of his death is uncertain.
The philosophy, to which he was so much ad, dicted, would naturally darken his views of some of the most precious truths of the gospel: particuJarly the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ will always suffer from this connection, the philosophers knowing no religion but what is infused. There is doubtless good proof of the solid piety of this learned man. Little is known of his life. But a more complete idea may be formed of his religious taste and spirit by a few quotations.
His exhortations * to the Gentiles is a discourse writen to convert the Pagans from their religion, and persuade them to embrace that of Jesus Christ. In the beginning of it he shews what difference there is between the design of Jesus Christ, and that of Orpheus, and those ancient musicians who were the first authors of idolatry, by telling us that these drew in men by their finging and the sweetness of their music, to render them miserable Naves to idols, and to make them like the very beasts, and stocks, and stones whom they adored “ Whereas Jesus Christ, who from all eternity was the Word of God, always had a compassionate tenderness for men, and at last took their nature upon him, to free them from the Aavery of Dæmons, to open the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf, to guide their paths in the way of righteousness, to deliver them from death and hell, and to bestow on them everlasting life, and to put them into a capacity of living an heavenly life here upon earth; and, lastly, that God made himself man to teach man to be like unto God.” He shews them, that eternal falvation cannot otherwise be expected, and that eternal corments cannot otherwise be avoided, but by believing in Jesus Christ, and by living conformably to his laws. “If you were permitted,” says he, purchase eternal salvation, what would you not give for it? And now you may obtain it by faith and love, there is nothing can hinder you from acquiring it, neither poverty, nor misery, nor old age, nor any state of life. Believe, therefore, in one God, who is God and man, and receive eternal salvation for a recompence. Seek God, and you shall live for ever.”
The * Dupin Clement,
The candid christian sees that the fundamentals of the gospel are here laid down, as one might expect in a discourse of this nature, though not in the clearest and happiest manner. * In his Pædagogue he describes the word incarnate as the instructor of men ; that he performs his functions by forgiving our sins as he is God, and by instructing us as he is man, with great sweetness and love ; tho' he equally instructs all sorts, because all are children in one sense. Yet we must not look on christian doctrines as childish and contemptible : on the contrary, the quality of children which they receive in baptism I renders them perfect in the knowledge of Divine things, by delivering them from fins by grace, and enlightening them with the illumination of faith ; so that we are at the same time both children and men ; and the milk with which we are nourished, being both the word and will of God, is very folid and fubftantial nourishment.” Here seein to be fome of his best ideas of christianity.
In his Stromata he speaks with his usual partiality in favour of philofophy, and shews the effect his regard for it had on his own mind, by saying that faith is God's gift, but so as to depend on our own free will. His account of the perfect christian, whom he calls Gnofticus, is sullied by ftoical rhapsodies t. “ He is never angry, and nothing affects him: because he always loves God, he will look upon that time as lost which he is
* Du Pin.
$ Or regeneration. The outward sign and the inward fpiritual grace, on account of their usual connection in the primitive church, are used as synonimous by a number of primitive writers, which has unhappily given occasion to one of the worst abuses, from those who place all grace in form and ceremony only.
+ Fleury, B. 4.